So a couple of weeks ago I visited my mom in a really remote part of South Africa. It was great, wide open spaces, delicious lamb and a good old “kuier”. On my way back home, I had some car trouble – serious car trouble. My car crawled at a snails pace to the nearest town, which happened to be Victoria West. I managed to get to the nearest garage that I remembered from a few days earlier.
The guys at the garage told me the trouble with my car was rather serious and I would not be able to drive any further. My heart sank. There I was, stuck in a town with no car rental available and 450km’s from home…I felt like crying.
The guys at the garage were great and I learned a lot about customer service from them. They really went the extra mile to make phone calls and find out from the nearest town who could assist me. They plied me with coffee and tea and even arranged an office for me to work in while I wait the 3 hours for a rental car to reach me.
The place is run by a father and son – and I realised that I know the son from school days when we used to play sport and compete on the athletics field. What really impressed me about this small garage, is the friendliness and helpfulness with which each person approached me. The owner of the business paid personal attention to me. I felt like I was the only one that mattered.
What struck me as well, was how clean and organised the place looked. Each person’s office was sparkling clean and everyone seemed to know exactly what they were supposed to do. In just a few minutes I felt like part of their family….
Fast forward to the current reality – where my car is still at the dealership in my local town and they are trying to get it fixed. It’s a real bummer being without a car, but business needs to continue and I still have clients to see. I’ve got to admit I went through the entire conversation of “Why is this happening to me?” with all the negative self talk and feeling sorry for myself.
And then something changed.
Actually the question I asked myself changed to “What is the lesson I can learn in this situation?” In the past I would have used obstacles and challenges as an excuse not to do certain things or cancel projects. But this time round I thought: No I’m not cancelling anything -I’ll find a different way to make it work.
In the process I’ve met some amazing people, had coffee with someone who has just gone through the same kind of experience and we shared war stories about what it’s like to be a woman in business today in South Africa. Tough no doubt, but we are even tougher and we’ll be kicking butt for a long time to come.
So I guess the lesson for me is: When the (you know what) hits the fan, make a plan and keep going….